Army of Two: The 40th Day Review
The adventures of the two overgrown teenage frat boys continues, but now all the dude is a little more subdued and although much of the attitude is still around, EA have changed enough in the 40th day that it’s close to being a series reboot.
Army of Two: The 40th day stars Tyson and Elliot as the muscle for a PMC (Private Military Corporation) performing a routine mission in Shanghai when explosions start to wreck the city and the two partners are torn between escaping the city and getting to the bottom of the trouble, and earning a little cash doing so. The story and atmosphere feel a lot more mature and easy to stomach than the original Army of Two although in honesty, creating a less mature game than the original would be quite a feat, but I digress.
As before combat uses the aggro system which allows one player to take the attention away from the other by firing a bigger/louder gun until the enemy focuses solely on one player, leaving the other nearly invisible. The aggro idea remains a rather unique twist to what would otherwise be a terribly generic combat experience. The biggest issue with the encouragement to flank is that the sporadic AI may suddenly turn on you as a new group of foes spawn behind you, leaving you in a not so tasty danger sandwich. The partner AI can also be just as irregular, one time you may be singing his praises as he drags you out of the line of fire before healing you, the next he could drag you into an open doorway before attempting revival. One redeeming feature is throughout the story you’ll bump into other characters that will trail along for a time, these characters will revive both of you if required rather than other games where they’ll sadistically watch you die. You do have a degree of control over your AI counterpart and he can be ordered around with a tap or two to the directional pad and more often than not he’ll do a good job of holding his own, when he’s not teabagging his most recent kill (no I’m not kidding).
While partnering up with an AI is a fair way to play through the game, life is a lot easier if you can find a chum and play together either split-screen or over the Internet. Working with a friend to flank or organise sniping targets with a partner requires some good communication which undoubtedly makes it more fun, at least for player one. There’s an issue in which the second player won’t have any progressed saved, so you may pick up on the final mission with your partner way underpowered with no more weapons than he would have at the games beginning. To condone your now weakened friend you can perform camaraderie actions such as chest bumps, bear hugs and rock, paper, scissors to raise your ‘bro meter’ (also not a joke) although this has little clear use in the context of the game. There’s a lot of focus on co-op throughout and you’ll often come up to gates that require the two of you to progress, on occasion you’ll also have to split up and one player will have to assist the other from a distance, it’s nothing original but it works well enough. There’s also a series of moral choices which may not have a huge bearing on story but they do effect what weapons you may be able to unlock or money and the choices can be selected by either player, so you might want to be sure that your partner and you are on the same page as far as taking the moral high ground or not.
The additional multiplayer options are rather lackluster, deathmatch, co-op deathmatch and a base capture made are all that are available right now unless you pre ordered. There’s an additional multiplayer mode “extraction” in which two pairs defend themselves from waves of attackers. This could be promising, which makes it all the more disapointing that we were unable to test this mode. There is no bonus for having unlocked a weapon in the campaign mode and no persistant stats to unlock, leaving online play feeling like it’s a generation behind other shooters.
Army of Two: The 40th day isn’t a terrible game, but it also fails to feel beyond average. There’s issues beyond the split screen bug such as weapons not unlocking, textures taking far too long to appear and absolutely no subtitles option which all feel inexcusable. A playthrough will take roughly six hours and although there’s an incentive to play back through for the other moral choices and weapon unlocks there is nothing here that will keep you coming back once that’s done.
Originally posted to CitizenGame.co.uk on Mar 7, 2010